Self-reported visual impairment in elderly Canadians and its impact on healthy living

Department of Ophthalmology & Vision Sciences, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Canadian Journal of Ophthalmology (Impact Factor: 1.33). 08/2008; 43(4):407-13. DOI: 10.3129/i08-077
Source: PubMed


Using a nationwide sample from community- and institution-dwelling residents, we describe the prevalence of self-reported visual impairment in elderly Canadians and examine its association with selected social demographics and health factors.
Subjects were participants in the phase I clinical examination of the Canadian Study of Health and Aging. Vision state was ascertained from a self-reported question: "How is your eyesight (with glasses or contacts if you wear them)?" A response of "poor" (referred to as poor vision) or "unable to see" (referred to as blindness) was considered visual impairment. Other information was from in-person interviews or clinical examinations. Standardized weights were used in all analyses.
Analyses included 2671 participants with a median age of 72 years. The overall prevalence was 6.2% for poor vision, 0.7% for blindness, and 6.8% for either. A higher prevalence was seen in women and in people aged 85 years or older. Participants with < or = 6 years of education were approximately 2 times more likely to report visual impairment. Institutional residents and people with falls or a depressed mood were approximately 3 times more likely to state visual impairment. Smoking was associated with approximately 4 times higher odds of visual impairment, while persons presenting difficulty with everyday activities or with self-rated poor health were approximately 7 and 15 times more likely to report visual impairment.
Visual impairment in elderly Canadians is common and is associated with increased odds of institutionalization, frequent falls, difficulty with everyday activities, and poor health. Good eyesight may imply good health and good independence in the elderly.

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Available from: Ya-Ping Jin, Oct 27, 2014
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